Bridge of Spies

Tom Hanks stars in this gripping Cold War thriller from Steven Spielberg

Film Review by Lewis Porteous | 24 Nov 2015
Film title: Bridge of Spies
Director: Steven Spielberg
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, Amy Ryan, Sebastian Koch, Alan Alda, Austin Stowell, Mikhail Gorevoy, Will Rogers
Release date: 26 Nov
Certificate: 12A

“Inspired by true events,” this tale of fraught Cold War diplomacy eagerly announces its basis in reality. The film's opening sequence, however, is pure cinema. Steven Spielberg depicts poker-faced intelligence agents negotiating Brooklyn, both parties seemingly in pursuit of the other.

These characters are fluid, fading in and out of anonymity among crowds, leaving the audience uncertain of their place in a global divide. The director made a name for himself with suspenseful visuals along these lines but, once our commie spy is apprehended and taken into custody, Bridge of Spies slips instead into the decidedly talky terrain of 2012's Lincoln.

Tom Hanks takes the lead as James Donovan, a morally scrupulous lawyer specialising in insurance cases. Having previously lent his sharp mind to the Nuremberg trials, he’s asked to represent the captured man in court and ensure his right to a fair hearing be granted. Donovan’s commitment to an unenviable task is noted, and he soon finds himself behind the Iron Curtain, attempting to exchange his KGB man for a captive US pilot.

While there are glimpses of patriotic populism throughout, this is easily one of Spielberg's most cynical offerings. Thank the Coen brothers, whose humanistic, whip-smart script, written in collaboration with Matt Charman, evokes a futile, high-stakes game of cat and mouse.

Released by 20th Century Fox